In order for it to achieve its objective of keeping environments safe and free from accident or incident, signal styled flaggers need to be versatile. Automated flagger devices, for instance, need to be able to manage more than your proverbial single lane closures. And by becoming automated, these devices have the ability to handle higher volumes of traffic, if needs be. But in order to live up to its name of being versatile, the user should still have the freedom to choose between automatic operations and manual use, as the case may be under specified circumstances.
But even so, it is worthwhile pointing out the differences. The signal flagger is operated autonomously via radio. It can also be operated manually if needs be, via a handheld remote. A traditional automated flagger assistance device (AFAD) system, on the other hand always requires an operator to be fully on board. Signal flaggers can only manage single lane closures. They can, however, be combined with other signal systems to be of assistance to side roads and driveways. But AFADs remain restricted to single lane closures.
All in all, signal flaggers are meeting the federal requirements, defined by the NCHRP 350 code of crashworthy performance criteria. So, the system and its devices have been approved for road use by the authorities. This is more peace of mind for the roadside contractor and the property owner that he is servicing. Seeing the clear signals as they drive by, this is peace of mind for the road users too.
Flagging traffic at contentious junctures is not just a matter of law. It is a matter of moral authority. And god help the man or woman who chooses not to exercise this God-given authority. Let's hope he or she gets caught soon.